Alec Baldwin’s Comments on Hip Replacement: From a Surgeon’s Perspective

June 26, 2023

hip replacement

Alec Baldwin has been sharing updates on his recovery from hip replacement surgery. In an Instagram video post, Baldwin told his 2.5 million followers that he delayed the procedure for nearly two years due to recovery times and his busy schedule. That made millions of Americans with hip pain wonder: When is hip replacement surgery recommended, what is recovery like, how long does it take to heal, and what happens if you put the procedure off?

To help answer these questions and others, Orlin & Cohen’s Dr. James Germano, a board-certified, fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon specializing in total hip and knee replacement, explains everything you need to know about the procedure with expert insights that clarify some of Baldwin’s comments.

When is hip replacement surgery recommended?

Hip replacement surgery is typically recommended when an individual experiences severe “bone-on-bone” arthritis in their hip joint. This occurs when the cartilage, which acts as a cushion between the bones, has worn away completely.

Common signs that may indicate arthritis in the hip and a need for hip surgery include:

  • Persistent hip pain
  • Decreased range of motion in the hip
  • Stiffness and swelling
  • Joint instability or the feeling of the hip “giving way” during weight-bearing activities
  • Chronic clicking or grinding
  • An impact on your ability to perform routine tasks, like walking, going up stairs, or sitting up

Before considering hip replacement, patients usually try various treatment options such as adjusting their activity level, losing weight, engaging in low-impact exercises, undergoing physical therapy, and taking NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). Many consider hip replacement surgery when these conservative measures no longer provide relief.

What are the different types of hip replacement surgeries?

Depending on your joint, you may need a total replacement or hemiarthroplasty. Here’s the difference between the two.

Total hip replacement

The hip is a ball-and-socket joint. A total hip replacement replaces both parts of the joint. During the procedure, a surgeon removes the femoral head and the damaged cartilage and bone in the acetabulum. They are replaced with a metal socket in the hip bone, a ceramic or metal ball on a stem inserted into the femur, and a plastic liner in the socket, creating a new, functioning hip joint. This procedure is commonly performed for severe arthritis cases.


Hemiarthroplasty is a partial hip replacement procedure typically performed on elderly patients and those who have experienced a fall and fracture that impacts hip joint function. It involves replacing only the damaged ball of the hip joint. Hemiarthroplasty is not commonly performed for arthritis cases.

 Is four to six weeks the typical recovery period after hip replacement surgery?

While Alec Baldwin noted he put off surgery due to the potential four- to six-week recovery time, recovery varies from one patient to the next. On average, hip replacement recovery takes between two and 12 weeks, depending on the patient’s health and lifestyle, among other factors. For example, someone working from home can most likely return to work in two weeks, but a construction worker may need a full 12 weeks.

At two weeks, many patients can complete daily tasks independently, including laundry, cooking, walking up stairs, and getting in and out of a car. The hip continues to improve over time as the muscles increase strength. Higher-intensity activities require additional time, and returning to sports like golf can take about three months. Tennis takes five to six months, and downhill skiing ranges from six to nine months.

The most important thing to do to ensure a quick recovery is to start walking as soon as possible. At Orlin & Cohen, it is a goal that all patients who undergo hip replacements are up and walking within hours of surgery.

What are the risks of putting off hip replacement surgery?

Baldwin mentioned that he did himself “no favors” by postponing his surgery for so long, noting the “compensatory damage” it had on his back, neck, feet, and knees.

And the data agrees, with studies suggesting that ignoring severe hip arthritis and delaying hip replacement can impact other body parts. Most commonly, these are the back, the opposite hip, and the knee on the same side as the arthritis. This is caused by impaired mobility in the impacted hip, which can alter how you walk naturally, causing additional stress on those joints.

It’s also common for people with arthritis to overuse medications like ibuprofen or other NSAIDs, which can lead to kidney damage and gastrointestinal (GI) conditions like stomach ulcers.

What are the risks associated with hip replacement surgery?

Risks of hip replacement include joint dislocation (when the ball comes out of the socket), infection, nerve injury, and blood clots in the legs or lungs. However, with an experienced hip replacement surgeon and a patient who follows treatment and recovery instructions carefully, hip replacements are a safe and effective procedure that can relieve pain and increase your range of motion, so you can return to a more active life doing what you love.

What lifestyle modifications are necessary after hip replacement surgery?

With Alec Baldwin’s recent hip replacement, some have remarked that he will need to modify his lifestyle and refrain from flying until his hip heals fully.

Generally, patients with hip replacements are advised not to fly for the first eight weeks following the procedure, as flying increases the risk of blood clots. Other limitations include bending over, so it’s helpful to have assistance when putting on shoes and socks.

There are very few restrictions after the early postoperative phase of hip replacement. At Orlin & Cohen, all joint replacement patients work closely with our licensed physical therapists to get back to living full, active lives as quickly as possible.

Are there any alternative treatments to hip replacement surgery?

With advanced arthritis of the hip, very few alternatives are as effective as a hip replacement. Some patients, especially those who are not candidates for surgery, may benefit from physical therapy, medication, and occasional steroid injections into the hip to help manage pain.

However, this treatment is not sustainable long term and can lead to severe pain and decreased function that can keep a patient from walking independently.

Hip replacement is a safe, effective surgery that often changes people’s lives forever. Many of Orlin & Cohen’s patients say they only wish they had done it sooner. With today’s technology and rapid recovery protocols, patients can return to their lives quicker and within weeks, they are functioning better than they had been in years.

Experiencing hip pain or wondering if you’re a candidate for a hip replacement? We’ve got specialists for that, and with the most Castle Connolly Top Doctors® on Long Island, Orlin & Cohen’s orthopedists feature some of the nation’s best hip and joint replacement specialists. Their experience and expertise can help you feel better, faster. Request an appointment.